BARRYVILLE, NY – Actress, author and activist Amber Tamblyn and Town of Highland co-historian Debra Conway are back at the Barryville Farmers’ Market, reprising last summer’s highly …
BARRYVILLE, NY – Actress, author and activist Amber Tamblyn and Town of Highland co-historian Debra Conway are back at the Barryville Farmers’ Market, reprising last summer’s highly successful Voter Registration campaign: “Vote Where Your Heart Is.”
Last year, Tamblyn and her actor/comedian husband David Cross helped register more than 60 second-homeowners who felt their votes would mean more in local elections—which are often lost and won by only a handful of votes—than in their more populated districts. This year, due to COVID-19, they see the need to register new voters as even greater.
“In recent weeks, as the market reopened, so many customers began saying they are moving here permanently; selling their apartments in the city, their houses in New Jersey,” Conway says. “They feel safer here, have figured out how to keep doing what they do from here, and now want to become more involved.”
Anecdotally, about 500,000 city dwellers are relocating largely into the Hudson and Delaware River Valleys. Those numbers will have a huge impact on our future, Conway says. So, this year they are also including Census 2020 information in their efforts, partnering with Sullivan 180 and others to distribute flyers and what they are calling census swag: pens, writing pads, post-it notes, stickers, lip balm, lanyards all with Census 2020 reminders or ways people can be counted.
“The latest statistics I’ve seen show Sullivan County near the bottom of New York’s self-response rate,” Conway says. “I don’t get what people don’t get about the importance of being counted. It takes 10 minutes online, it’s private and it affects future federal funding for our schools, hospitals, roads and bridges, and so much more.”
And she and Tamblyn are prepared to explain “the so much more,” using guilt trips if necessary, to show residents they are hurting only themselves and fellow taxpayers when they are not counted as required every 10 years by the United States Constitution. “We’re throwing away money that should be ours for school lunches, health clinics, flood and hurricane response, even COVID-19 response.”
Conway is also not above using guilt trips about voting and voter registration, dressing as a pre-1920 Suffragist—even in 90-degree heat—to call attention to the issue.
“Because John and I are such history nerds, we started reading about the 80-year-long women’s suffrage movement that next month celebrates the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote,” says Conway who is married to Sullivan County Historian John Conway. “The beatings, the deaths, the hunger strikes and torture of forced feedings these women endured in the name of basic human rights and equality—that all spoke to me, personally. So, I decided to pay a “living history” homage to those sacrifices and those women on whose shoulders we stand, and be a quiet reminder to anyone who decides to sit out any election. I almost want to ask, ‘How dare you?’”